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Green Science: Bioindustrial Processes

Green Science: Bioindustrial Processes

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The New York Academy of Sciences

This highly interdisciplinary group brings together scientists and engineers with key stakeholders and policy makers from academia, business, and government who are interested in understanding the broad range of scientific methods and disciplines that underlie key environmental challenges. This year's focus will be on issues related to global warming with an emphasis on energy sources, energy storage, and carbon management.

Panel Moderator: John Leazer, Merck



  Biocatalysis from an Environmental Perspective: An Alternate Look at the Emerging Field
Alex Zaks, Schering Plough

The value of biocatalysis for the development of pharmaceuticals is becoming increasingly clear. Indeed, numerous environmentally friendly commercial processes that exploit an enzyme's selectivity and ability to operate under mild conditions have been developed and scaled-up. The talk will exemplify how biocatalytic approaches can satisfy the green chemistry requirements in maximizing atom economy, minimizing waste, and eliminating the need for temporary protections and de-protections.

Biosurfactants: Elegance in Structure and Function
Raina Maier, The University of Arizona

Microbial surfactants (biosurfactants) have evolved since life began and show structural elegance and function unmatched by synthetic chemistry. These molecules aggregate in solution at low concentration and exhibit powerful surfactant activity at both liquid and solid surfaces. The structural intricacy of these materials is compounded by the fact that they are produced as complex mixtures of up to 40 congeners in which the hydrophilic head groups are fairly conserved and the hydrophobic tail groups have considerable variation. Component congeners within these complex mixtures can have remarkably different properties. Different biosurfactant types and their properties will be discussed as well as potential applications for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, biotechnology, and remediation industries

Biocatalysis: An Innovative Green Chemistry for the Pharmaceutical Industry
Birgit Kosjek, Merck

Biocatalysis is an inherently green methodology used at Merck to access complex pharmaceutical intermediates. Enzyme catalyzed reactions proceed with unprecedented chemo-, regio-, and stereoselectivity and generally do not form side products, thus minimizing separation and purification steps. The processes typically run at ambient temperatures and pressures and at neutral pH in an environmentally benign aqueous system. Enzymes are renewable bio-catalysts using non-toxic cofactors which produce innocuous waste streams. As a result, biocatalytic asymmetric reactions represent a valuable green technology for the synthesis of optically pure intermediates for the pharmaceutical industry. Several examples of development and scale-up of enzymatic processes to chiral alcohols and amines will be discussed.